Friday, December 26, 2014

PATHETIC: Democrat-controlled Harrisburg Launches It's Own War On Christmas


Christmas Eve worshippers hit with city parking tickets, fines outside church

The Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick has been alerting parishioners that they'll have to pay to park in metered spots on Christmas Eve until 7 p.m. (Julianne Mattera |

HARRISBURG — Diann and Michael T. Carricato have created holiday traditions around worshiping at the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick in Harrisburg.

Now they are afraid they'll have a new one — paying parking tickets.

Standard Parking's meters around the city were set to charge until their typical cut-off time of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and Lubiann Reichert, parish administration manager, told PennLive that the parish was alerting parishioners that they'd have to pay to park.

White paper signs hung in the cathedral entranceway with this warning to churchgoers in red writing: "Parking Christmas Eve: Did you remember to feed the meter?"

The Carricatos said they tried to comply before attending the 4:30 p.m. service.

Rain was pouring down when Michael, 70, tried to pay to park his vehicle there throughout the Mass, but the pay station didn't take three different credit cards or the pocket full of change he tried to pass through the machine. The correct license plate number wasn't appearing in the system. After standing in the rain for minutes and watching the line of people waiting to pay grow behind him, Michael saw no choice but to move on. 

But, he returned. After the church began to fill and the meter line had shortened, Michael returned to pay his meter. Once again, it appeared to malfunction.

Michael's choice to re-enter the cathedral for the start of Mass cost the the Carricato family $30. If they don't pay the ticket within four days, the fine will increase to $50.

"We tried. What can I say? We tried to pay and we chose to come to Harrisburg for the Mass. Maybe we won't if this is going to happen," Diann, 68, said.

Ticket.jpegTwo parking validation slips Swatara Twp. commissioner Tom Connolly received when paying for two separate parking occasions near the cathedral Wednesday evening. The parking payment meter did not print a full ticket to validate on the second parking instance, but Connolly said the meter enforcement workers said not to worry about it as they continued to ticket vehicles. 
Though the Carricatos are from Dillsburg, they said they have plenty of reasons to attend Mass on State Street in Harrisburg. A family member sang in the cathedral's choir for years, the pair was married in the building 46 years ago, and a person signs the cathedral's Christmas Eve Mass, which is helpful for the pair's special needs son.

For Diann, there was no good reason to ticket the vehicles parked for Christmas Eve Mass, and the situation could be summed up in one word: abominable.

"So now I have to make sure this ticket is paid by Friday or over the weekend. I have to think about this over the holidays," Diann said.

Swatara Township Commissioner Tom Connolly used another word to describe the payment scene: chaotic. 

"There were a lot of people trying to get into Mass and trying to pay their parking on the payment station in front of the church. It just seemed like a lot of confusion," Connolly said.

Reichert told PennLive that the pastor at St. Patrick reached out to Standard Parking to shift the parking hours so people could attend Mass without paying, but the company would not change its hours.

Standard Parking regional manager Joe Kemp told PennLive in an earlier email that the contracted firm, which runs the city's parking, would not change its charging hours, because it is "adhering to the policies as dictated in the agreements and ordinances in place."

Diann did not agree with the company's reasoning, saying, "They can fix anything they want to fix."

Kemp told PennLive in an earlier email that Standard Parking had not heard from any other churches with concerns about Christmas Eve parking. 

The idea did not sit well with Connolly, who said many of the area churches held services on other days, especially on Sundays when parking isn't charged.

"It would never apply for some of those other churches," Connolly said. 

Connolly said he was hoping to help pay for people's parking so they could attend Mass without worrying about the fee, but after an inability to get in contact with Reichert on the issue and being told the Standard Parking employees were leaving the office early at 2 p.m. and couldn't help him, he chose to donate the money.

Parking Enforcement.jpg 
"In my head I thought about contributing $250, maybe for 50 parkers, because my father, who worked for the state and passed away in September, went to Mass daily and spent a good bit of time in the cathedral," he said.

Connolly stopped at the cathedral before the Wednesday evening Mass to contribute a check to the parish and saw a Standard Parking meter enforcement car pulling slowly down State Street as he left. It was 4:33 p.m. when he looked at the clock.

"That just kind of set me off," he said. "It just seemed kind of blatant that they would start ticketing right after the Mass was scheduled to start. It just doesn't send a good message."

Connolly said he could relate to the people worrying about parking, because he is cautious when he drives into the city. 

"I avoid parking in Harrisburg as much as I possibly can, and I'll be honest with you, I even worry and watch the clock in [the Dauphin County] commissioner meetings, because I don't want to go over my payment and face a ticket," Connolly said.

Connolly said he fears the tickets will cause more harm for the city than the positives generated by ticketing income.

The Carricatos said they plan to challenge their ticket, and they said the overall experience leaves them questioning their future attendance at cathedral Masses.

"We were born and raised in this area and married in this church," Michael said. "We have a lot of reason to be here, but now I'm leaving with a sour taste in my mouth."

Diann said she had the same feeling and worried about how it would impact the city.

"It's just unfortunate that you have people like us who aren't city people but who choose to come here, and this doesn't do anything to invite anyone back," she said.


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